The Saugeen Shores Winterhawks went toe-to-toe with the defending WOAA Sr. Hockey champions on Saturday night in Clinton.
The Winterhawks nearly doubled the Clinton Radars in shots, but came up one goal short, dropping a 5-4 decision.
It was not the start the Winterhawks envisioned, as they found themselves in penalty trouble early, spotting Clinton a five-on-three advantage.
The Winterhawks penalty killers managed to kill off the first minor penalty, but Zach Graham beat Winterhawks starter Eric Peicheff to open the scoring with less than 20-seconds left in the second penalty.
The Winterhawks had a five-on-three of their own a few minutes later, but were unable to capitalize.
Shortly after the penalties ended, Clinton expanded their lead to 2-0 when Davis Brown scored a fluky goal off Peicheff and in.
The Winterhawks battled back early in the 2nd, during a span of four-on-four hockey, as Josh Deyell got the Winterhawks on the board at 35-second mark, with assists to Miles MacLean and Trevor Smith.
The Radars flexed their muscle later on in the period, reminding why they’ve won three-consecutive championships.
Stephen Sanza and Max Campbell scored 29-seconds apart to run the score to 4-1 Clinton, followed by a shorthanded breakaway goal for Ryan Murphy to make it 5-1 Clinton just past the midway point of the 2nd period.
Spotting the Radars a four-goal lead is generally a death sentence, but the Winterhawks weren’t about to go down without a fight.
Lauchlin Elder notched a power play goal at 14:19, with assists to Mike Rocca and Blake Underwood.
It was Underwood’s turn 87-seconds later, scoring a goal assisted by Curtis Johnston to cut the Clinton lead to 5-3, which is where things stood heading to the 3rd period.
Clinton picked up a bench minor for too many men on the ice early in the period and Andy Fracz converted late in the power play, with assists to Bryan Kazarian and Smith, making it a one-goal game.
The Winterhawks threw everything at Clinton netmidner Greg Dodds, but could not find the equalizer, despite outshooting the Radars 41-21 on the night.
The loss drops the Winterhawks record to 13-6-1 on the season, and coupling it with a Durham win on Saturday night, moves the Winterhawks down to 4th place in the WOAA Sr. Hockey standings.
Durham sits two points up on the Winterhawks with two games left for each team in the regular season.
The Winterhawks can officially clinch their spot in the Sr. “AA” playoffs with a win at home this Friday night, when they host the Shelburne Muskies at The Plex at 8:30 p.m.